Grande Ronde, Corrupt Tribal Council, Mascots, and Reyn Leno
Corruption is the word of the day regarding the absurdity of The Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde’ stance has taken condoning the use of Native American mascots in schools across Oregon state. The cruelty of corruption seen in disenrollment and the buying of our leaders’ complicity in mascotting yet another generation is heartbreaking and now Native Americans face another tribal leader joining their ranks, Reyn Leno.
Reyn Leno is the Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and also serves on the Spirit Mountain Community Fund Board of Trustees and as chairman of the Spirit Mountain Casino Board of Directors. Persuaded by a campaign led by the Oregon Indian Education Association to end of race-based mascots, the Oregon Board of Education voted in 2013 to end the use of offensive Native mascots. Faced with the loss of their prized “Indian” mascots, mostly non- parents and school administrators turned to Reyn Leno for help and he put the full weight of his small, but wealthy tribe at their beck and call ignoring the well-being of actual Native students in Oregon schools. He has connected pride in heritage to generic, culture-appropriation and even brought up service in Viet Nam to justify the misuse of other tribes’ cultures in his latest opinion piece “Reasonable resolution to tribal-mascot debate”.
Leno has claimed the money could be better spent, even though adidas has offered to help with the financial burden.
He has made grand statements about brave ancestors and losing tribal land all to justify his outlandish support of racism. I’m not sure how these statements are connected to offensive and stereotypical Native American imagery, but he used them all as excuses for his support.
Beyond these incoherent justifications found in his “reasonable” response, Leno has been subject to ethics investigations leading to findings of 10 ethics violations, and has been accused of actively committing paper genocide by disenrolling 76 tribal members.
Here are the facts we know about Reyn Leno and his “reasonable” leadership:
- He advocates for race-based Native American mascots that are proven to have negative impacts on children as stated by the American Psychology Association in their 2005 study.
- He has a total of 10 reported ethics violations. From the official complaint “Defendant failed to uphold his oath of office in several ways. First, he failed to declare conflicts of interest between his personal interest and the public interest on multiple occasions. Second, he entered into an unlawful business transaction with RV. Where he paid less than market rates for services rendered from RV, a company which he, at the time, served as the Chairman on the board of directors, effectively committing theft of services. Third, Defendant used his position, influence and power to conceal and cover-up his unethical behavior.
- He’s disenrolling tribal members under secrecy using Abramhoff’s playbook and then putting a gag order on said tribal members, using ‘sovereignty’ to justify stripping members of their first amendment rights. See: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jack-abramoff-the-lobbyists-playbook-30-05-2012/
- “Only a few outlets covered a September 1 tribal court decision that upheld the removal of 86 people from the rolls. Yet the tribe’s attorneys want the descendants of Chief Tumulth, who signed the 1855 Willamette Valley Treaty, and the Galanda Broadman law firm to be held in contempt for allegedly violating a gag order in the case. […] “Petitioners should be ordered to cease and desist from publishing the parties briefings and otherwise using the media in attempt to influence matters on appeal,” tribal attorneys said in the court filing.” https://turtletalk.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/7-grand-ronde-ancestors-posthumously-disenrolled-appeals-dismissed/
Sovereignty is not a justification for violation of the right to free speech, which is exactly what has happened.
Especially self-serving is the gag order imposed by the tribe on expelled tribal members. Why is it necessary to trample on the 1st amendment rights under the guise of sovereignty? I did call Mr. Leno’s office to ask him questions about the mascots, ethics violations, disenrolling, and new casino rumors, I did not receive a call back.
After speaking to some tribal members that wish to remain anonymous for fear of being stripped of their tribal membership, I got the impression Mr. Leno champions mascots and the use of Abramhoff’s playbook, not the tribe. That phrase was used several times, Abramhoff’s playbook. From the attorney Galanda’s blog ““It’s just a Tribal membership dispute.” (Plays #1 and 2 are exposed here and here.) “FOR ALMOST A YEAR, THE TRIBAL COUNCIL HAS ADMONISHED US TO FOLLOW THE ‘PROCESS’ AND NOW THEY CHANGED THE PROCESS WITH LESS THAN A WEEK REMAINING BEFORE A DECISION WAS TO BE MADE,” STATED FAMILY SPOKESPERSON MIA PRICKETT.”
This is nothing new. It’s happening in several tribes. And the playbook is being perfected by corrupt Tribal leaders. A mixture of greed, inner conflict, personal feuds and corrupt agendas are behind this wave of disenrollment. This strips members of homes, healthcare, college scholarships, jobs, elder housing and health, and identity.It’s paper genocide. It is the absolute worst nightmare coming true.
Taking all this into consideration, is it any surprise this self-appointed speaker for all Native American students in Oregon would champion racist native imagery? Native American mascotting has been debated nationwide and opponents use the same rhetoric used to justify racism in any case of injustice. From political correctness, to “we’re honoring you’’, pride, and Reyn’s own “preserving the heritage” example. It makes one wonder, did Mr. Leno get a lump sum from the NFL’s own Snyder to support the cause?
In a summary of the APA resolution recommending the immediate retirement of American Indian Mascots, the findings were conclusive and clear, “the American Psychological Association (APA) called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations. APA’s position is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people.
From Mr. Leno’s statement on mascots, “Our people are proud to be known as Indians, Braves, Warriors and Chiefs. The Oregon State Board of Education recently made the right decision to approve a rule that reinforces the Legislature’s bill allowing for federally recognized tribes and neighboring school districts to enter into agreements on culturally:acceptable and respectable mascot imagery.”
Leno’s claim money could be better spent on education doesn’t hold water either. Adidas announced in November, “About 2,000 high schools still use monikers and mascots that “cause concern for many tribal communities,” according to the company, which sent executives to the conference and announced it will be a founding member of a coalition that reviews the issue of Native American imagery in sports.”
So why would any tribal leader advocate for these offensive mascots? Judging from Reyn Leno’s official statement, the reasons would be: I don’t care, it serves my purpose, racism be damned, cultural appropriation be damned, and let’s just ignore studies on the damage mascotting does to the psychological health of our children. It’s not an honor. First of all, most are a generic depiction of what never was, appropriated from the Plains tribes or Mohawks (one of the high schools in Oregon use this Eastern tribe as a mascot: Leno approves), give the impression that the image that Hollywood perpetuated is accurate, and further degrades our true cultures. Tomahawk chops, practiced by the classmates, teachers, those who are supposed to befriend, guide are children are not honorable. Redskins….. that term is beyond offensive. I’ve had people tell me it’s a term referring to our brave warriors. No. It refers to the bounty on the scalps of Natives. Even women and children.
Would it be offensive if an Oregon high school team was named the Willamette Wetbacks or Banks Zulu Warriors and fans showed up in blackface or in sombreros and acting out ignorant ideas of those cultures? Would the Oregon Board of Education allow an exception for the promotion of ignorance of those communities and leave Latino and Black students open to the same ridicule, unnecessary burden of educating their communities instead of being focused on school? I think not.
So why are exceptions madea when Native Americans say “I am not ok with this offensive imagery”? Why find “an Indian” to okay it? These stereotypes are dehumanizing and are even in the Declaration of Independence “the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions”.
And just because there are a few that say it doesn’t bother them, or because Snyder swooped in with money, doesn’t make it ok, nor does it mean they speak for Native Americans as a whole. They often don’t even speak for their tribe as a whole. In light of that, why is Grande Ronde Chairman Reyn Leno the mascotting of other tribes’ cultural heritage and subjecting Native students from those Plains and Woodland tribes who are students in Oregon to ridicule all because it doesn’t bother him. Especially when it is not even his culture that is being mascotted? In my opinion, Mr. Leno is beyond reprehensible. I wish he would listen to Haudenosaunee leader (whose culture by the way is being mascotted by an Oregon high school) and Onondaga Faith Keeper, Oren Lyons,
“In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred-everything is for sale.”
February 6, 2016
Ethics Complaints https://andyjenness.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/ethics-complaint-reynold-leno-02-24-2011.pdf
Mr. Leno’s statement on mascots
Quote From The Wolf at Twilight